Carbonscape, the New Zealand company working on making charcoal from a microwaving process discussed here and here on Hot Topic, has just announced that they are one of only five companies to make the shortlist in a global competition, the Financial Times’ Climate Change Challenge.
The competition seeks the most innovative solution to the effects of climate change. The winner, to be chosen by Financial Times readers and a panel of judges will receive a US$75,000 prize, sponsored by Hewlett Packard, to help bring their service to market. I notice Richard Branson, IPCC Chair Rajendra Pachauri and Jonathon Porritt among the eight judges.
Understandably Carbonscape are excited to have made it to the shortlist from the 300 entries. Director Vicki Buck rather hopes that there’ll be votes from New Zealand readers to help give them a chance of winning the contest. (See the link above if you want to vote).
The biochar concept of sequestering carbon by turning it to charcoal and burying it in the ground where it remains stable for centuries, apparently benefitting the soil greatly at the same time, is gaining increasing attention. Arguments are being advanced for recognising it in the post-Kyoto agreement as a carbon sink. Carbonscape’s microwaving process to make the charcoal is a world first. One of the directors, climate scientist Chris Turney, is extending the company’s operation into the UK according to a recent Guardian article.
The step from concept and trial to production on a large scale must be a major one for new technologies. I imagine US$75,000 wouldn’t go very far in aiding the process, but the prize might attract interest from deeper pockets. Carbonscape haven’t won it yet, but even the publicity of being on the short list in a publication like the Financial Times must open up possibilities. Congratulations to them – it’s great to see some New Zealanders at the forefront in addressing climate change at a time when our government seems intent on falling back to the rear.